So the 4 and 5 shall meet. That would be Robin Soderling and Andy Murray, who flopped spots in the rankings last week. This is a big moment for Soderling, a no-excuses kind of moment, a moment when the future disappears and becomes now. His draw looks helpful: Starace to start and names like Gulbis, Bellucci, Dolgopolov hanging around. The first test should come in the fourth round, against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Has the Sod elevated himself above the Jo-Willies of the world, permanently? We’ll find out.
As for the 5, Murray, he’s in a similar situation to Soderling. There are two potentially dangerous guys floating near him, Del Potro and Baghdatis, who would play each other in the second round. We’ll see what each of them has: Del Potro, for one, is in the crawling stages of his comeback. At the top of the draw is an even more unpredictable figure in Jurgen Melzer. Was last year for real, or a mirage? He can hang with Murray.
If it’s Murray vs. Soderling, it’s a toss-up at this point. The last time they played, at the World Tour Finals, Murray made him look like a wheel-spinning amateur. This match would be a referendum on Soderling, but I like Murray at the expectation-lowering No. 5, which is where he was last year. And I like him on these forgiving courts, where he can create defensively.
Marcos will open his Australian Open campaign on Tuesday in Melbourne when he faces Slovenian qualifier Grega Zemlja.
World No. 141 Zemlja is playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time, with his best result coming at last year at Roland Garros, where he reached the second round after beating World No. 25 Juan Monaco.
The 24-year-old right-hander enjoyed his best success last season on the ATP Challenger Tour, reaching the final in Honolulu and the semi-finals in Caltanissetta and Rijeka. It will be a first meeting with the Jesenice native for Marcos.
The match is scheduled to take place third on Show Court 3, with play in Melbourne beginning at 11am (midnight GMT, 2am Cyprus, 7pm ET). Check out the full order of play here.
Marcos was made to work very hard for his place in the second round of the Australian Open, edging Slovenian qualifier Grega Zemlja 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 on Tuesday in Melbourne.
A large part of Marcos’ success can be attributed to the raucous support he received from the fans on Show Court 3, who carried him through the testing moments to eventual victory in three hours and 23 minutes.
After playing three matches in the past few days to secure his place in the main draw, Zemlja started the match the sharper of the two players and capitalised on errors from Marcos to secure the one-set lead.
World No. 141 Zemlja continued to hold his own in the second set and had Marcos in trouble in the 11th game as he earned two break points. Clutch play from Marcos pulled him through the service game to hold for 6-5, though, and his greater experience and quality showed in the following game as he broke serve with pressing play at the net to level the match.
Buoyed by the swing in momentum, Marcos raced through the third set, cutting out the unforced errors and serving well as he took a two-sets-to-one lead with two breaks of serve. He looked to be in control of the match as he broke serve in the third game of the fourth set with a forehand winner. However, Zemlja impressed by fighting back immediately, taking advantage of a loose game from Marcos to level at 2-2.
Following the loss of his lead, Marcos struggled to regain his momentum and Zemlja seized his opportunity to steal the fourth set with a break of serve in the 10th game as he rifled a backhand winner up the line.
With the support of the crowd, Marcos responded immediately and upped his level to get on top of Zemlja early in the fifth set with a double-break lead. From there he had few problems in closing out the match against a tiring Zemlja to set up a blockbuster second-round clash with former World No. 4 and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.
Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus celebrates his win over Slovenia's Grega Zemlja during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill) ....... Source: AP
FAN favourite Marcos Baghdatis chatted with fans this afternoon.
In a blockbuster second-round clash at the Australian Open, Marcos will face 2009 US Open champion and former World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro.
Don’t be fooled by the del Potro’s lowly ranking of World No. 236. The Argentine was restricted to just three tournaments in 2010 as he battled to overcome a right wrist injury; he underwent surgery in May. The 22 year old is back healthy now, although seriously lacking match practice, and made his comeback to the tour in a second-round exit in Sydney last week.
Prior to the injury, del Potro had finished 2009 in blistering form, defeating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to win the US Open and reaching the title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.